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muddy

Loss Of Power/battery Not Charging?

7 posts in this topic

Hi, I hope someone can advise me. I drive a 2003 Mondeo tdci estate.

I had a new battery fitted a couple of weeks ago after car wouldn't start.

Been perfect since.

Until last night that is...

I was driving home in the dark on my own so not an ideal time to break down. All seemed fine then all of a sudden I noticed the ABS light come on. Then all the lights on the dash slowly dimmed and the ABS light went off and as I pulled into a parking spot (thank goodness) the car just died. It wouldn't start again. I called my husband for him to come get me, but whilst waiting I tried car again (after about 5 minute interval) and it started, so I risked driving home as I wasn't far away then. It got me home.

My husband has tested battery with his ammeter and it doesn't appear to be charging. Do you think I need a new alternator or could it be something else/something more simple and cheaper! lol

Any advice greatly appreciated!

Regards,

Katherin

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Hmmm, there are various possibilities, but possibly the most likely ones are the expensive ones. That said, you wouldn't really want to commit to the expense of a new alternator if it did turn out to be one of the cheaper ones.

My husband has tested battery with his ammeter and it doesn't appear to be charging.

I'd like to think that this was a test with a voltmeter and not an ammeter. On charge, and with a few rpm (say 2000) the battery voltage should be about 14.4. At that voltage the battery will be charging correctly. If the battery voltage is lower than about 12.5, the battery is discharging. Somewhere in-between and it is probably charging weakly...and that may be ok at low rpm, but by higher rpm (above, say, 2500) you should be able to get strong charging unless you have loads of load (heated windows on, air on full, lights on, etc).

You can test with an ammeter, but you have to be careful about the large starting currents, and with a clamp-on device, careful about which wires you clamp around.

...new battery fitted a couple of weeks ago after car wouldn't start... All seemed fine then all of a sudden I noticed the ABS light come on. Then all the lights on the dash slowly dimmed and the ABS light went off and as I pulled into a parking spot (thank goodness) the car just died.

Interpretation depends on

  • did the old battery die, because it wasn't being charged, or just of old age/natural causes? It is quite possible that the old one died because it wasn't really getting charge at all, or the charge was just a bit lower than it needed and it has take a while to get to the newer, better, battery, but the underlying is still the same.
  • did whoever fitted the battery do a good job - if they did a bad job, the battery connections have been made badly, and there is a good chance that just curing that is a cheap and easy (if relatively messy) cure; note that, given the currents involved it is easy to make these connections badly and it might not be apparent from a superficial examination
  • the battery could be bad...is it a decent brand? probably not a particularly likely cause

If the old battery died because it wasn't being charged, you have had the problem before the battery installation, and an alternator, or the wiring around the alternator are the most likely cause.

If the old battery died of very natural old age (first battery change for the vehicle??) then it is more probable that a new problem has arisen with the installation of the new battery and the connections on the battery are a likely candidate. ensure the connections are clean and then grease lightly, and ensure that the terminals are tightly made and then grease (eg, vaseline) over the top. There will be several wires connecting at the battery and they should all be good... Also, check that the battery has been fastened down securely...I recently had an experience with an apparently reputable garage fitting a battery without securing the battery down at all and then the battery pulls on the wires as you brake and go round corners and something will go wrong, sooner or later. In my case, the battery box broke first, but it could easily be a wire or a terminal instead.

Well, the trouble with those last suggestions is that normally if you have a bad connection it shows up most severely when you take most current, and that is starting. So, if the engine only cranks slowly, then this is quite likely, but you don't mention slow cranking (did it crank ok when restarting in your car park? that would probably have been battery ~flat, plus whatever else is wrong).

Does the engine seem to be correctly grounded? It is easy for a wire to become a poor connection over the years.

Does eg, the interior lighting (or the headlights...or the radio) fade and come back again in normal use? Is there any pattern?

If a voltmeter is available, even when charging strongly/ with significant electrical loads, there should be a relatively minimal voltage between the 'engine ground' (body of the engine) and the battery ground (say 0.1 volt, max). The same ought to be true of the positive connection from the alternator to the battery positive, but that connection is probably harder to trace and harder to access.

Another possibility is the drive belt; if the alternator drive belt slips, charging will be poor. Trouble is, this is normally accompanied by a screeching noise (partic in wet, or when you have all the electrics on) and you don't mention any noises. It is worth having a look, but without an oil spill on the belt, the belts tend to go for quite a while, these days. (And the 'auto-tensioner' is more forgiving of a bit of belt stretch than the old 'wind it up 'till tight' system.)

If the above hasn't given you any joy then it probably is the alternator. If you rely on this car (and I wouldn't like to be in the position of having an unreliable car in this weather, regardless of the exacerbating issues of 'woman' plus 'dark night'), you really need to go to a garage. Stand around, looking knowledgeable while they are testing (or send hubby) and ensure that they do some tests before they change stuff. Trouble is, the economics of the situations push them towards 'change first, ask questions later/do testing if that doesn't work...' and lots of garages have mechanics who are happier hitting things with a hammer than working out ohms law...

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What he said ;)

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Ok, firstly, excuse my mishaps with names of things I don't know about. ;)

My husband knows what he's doing thankfully and has tested the earth wire, the voltage etc...he's also made sure all connections on the battery are good.

Luckily we have a good guy look after my car who I trust to do jobs properly, he is a self employed mechanic and a good friend. He is going to double check all that dh has checked, this afternoon.

We've had a few quotes for 2nd hand alternators so its looking like we may order one of those to arrive tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Honestly, I'm so sick of spending money on this car! :unsure:

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Honestly, I'm so sick of spending money on this car!
Know the feeling. Apart from the Rover 414 I had about 12 years ago, my current Mondeo is probably the worst car I've ever had. Only had it since January and already had to replace the windscreen cos only half of it was working/heating due to corroded wiring, the radiator fan was stone dead so had to replace that, the aux belt was perished and the crank pulley corroded, so replaced the entire aux drive system, pulleys, the lot (which involved dropping the engine at the offside for access). Now I've got problems with the brakes as well. Luckily I'm not scared of getting my hands dirty and have done all but the windscreen myself

I'd really like a car that I don't have to take to pieces every couple of weeks.

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Ford = Fix Or Repair Daily .......But i love my tdco mondeo good old slugsworth

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Ford = Fix Or Repair Daily .......But i love my tdco mondeo good old slugsworth

Oddly, I'm the same. When it's all working, it's awesome. Definitely a love/hate relationship.

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